Greece, Macedonia reach deal over decades-old name dispute

Evarado Alatorre
Junio 13, 2018

Macedonia has agreed to change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia.

Due to Greek opposition to its northern neighbor sharing a name with a Greek province, Macedonia has been recognized by the United Nations and other global organizations as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras addressed the nation in a 5-minute televised address to announce the deal with his counterpart, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.

When Yugoslavia disintegrated, one of its pieces declared itself the Republic of Macedonia. But its southern neighbor, Greece, has regions that use the same name, and both countries argued that they had the rightful claim to it.

"We got a fair deal..."

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was briefing President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Tuesday afternoon.

(You'll see the acronym FYROM on Google Maps.) In addition to causing confusion, the similar names have been a stumbling block for the nation of Macedonia to join the European Union because of Greece's objections. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg's statement refers to "the agreement between Athens and Skopje" rather than naming the countries.

"This historic agreement is testament to many years of patient diplomacy and to the willingness of these two leaders to solve a dispute which has affected the region for too long", said Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary-General of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

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"We are proud that this historic agreement was reached while two progressive governments are running both of the countries", PES president Sergei Stanishev said.

Stoltenberg said: "This will set Skopje on its path to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation membership".

"We must now make good use of the window of opportunity that has been pushed wide open to accompany and consolidate the winds of peace and cooperation in the entire region".

However, passing the name "Northern Macedonia" through Greek parliament might turn out tricky as most parties previously rejected any kind of compromised on the issue. He added that Macedonia "cannot and will not be able in the future to claim any connection with the ancient Greek civilization of Macedonia". "Greece considers Macedonia a non-negotiable part of its history", explains NPR. Macedonia's flag is emblazoned with the Sun of Vergina - a symbol associated with the dynasty of Alexander and his father Philip.

The new name will now need to be approved by the a referendum that will be orchestrated by the central government on Skopje, as well as by Greece's parliament.

During that time there have been a number of UN-mediated talks as well as many protests.

The prime minister of Greece says his country has reached an agreement with Macedonia to end a decades-old dispute over the neighboring country's name.

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